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Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Australian tourism growth: Major sporting events boost tourism in Australia
The year 2006 has been a plentiful year for tourism in Australia, spurred by major sporting events.

Over 5.5 million tourists visited Australia in 2006.

December 2006 was one of the top months, fuelled by thousands of cricket fans pouring into the country to attend the Ashes series.

The Barmy Army provided the biggest boost to the December figures, with visitor numbers from the United Kingdom up by 22% during the Christmas month.

The end-of-year figures reflected this surge, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting on Tuesday that the country welcomed 5.532 million inbound travellers in 2006, up by 0.6% from 2005.

Tourism and Transport Forum Australia managing director Christopher Brown described the yearly results as "outstanding" and said Tourism Australia's campaigns - particularly in Britain - were starting to gain momentum.

"The December results in particular show the important role that major sporting events such as cricket can have in generating tourist interest and in boosting local economies," Brown said.

Australia's Federal Tourism Minister Fran Bailey said she was delighted with the results, which also revealed international tourists spent $1.4 billion more in Australia in 2006.

The year 2006 also witnessed strong visitor arrivals from China and India, but the number of tourists from Japan continued to drop.

"The appreciation of the Australian dollar to the yen, coupled with a slashing of aviation seats out of Japan by 9% is making the dream of an Australian holiday less of a reality for too many Japanese," Fran Bailey said.

Drought is the most important hurdle that the tourism industry in regional Australia is facing since the collapse of Ansett Airlines, an industry expert says.

Tourism and Transport Forum Australian managing director Christopher Brown says that rural and regional areas, which bore the brunt of the Ansett collapse, are now set to be the hardest hit as water resources dry up.

Water-skiing, white-water rafting and fishing are no longer an option for local tourism operators.

The drought has already caused tourist cancellations in the Murray region.

The impact of climate change is affecting other regional areas in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

The natural environment is a fundamental part of Australia's tourism industry. While farmers get drought assistance, the same cannot be said of the tourism industry.


posted by a correspondent @ 7:08 PM    
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